For the fifth consecutive month, sales of existing single-family homes in the Santa Clarita Valley came in higher than the prior year, with this February’s total up 19.0 percent, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Monday, March 26.
Indeed, the upward trend started in June of last year with only one month coming in lower than the prior year, and even that was down by a mere three transactions.
The 138 escrows that closed last month were 22 sales higher than February 2011 and up 39.4 percent from the record low for this cycle of 99 sales set in January 2008.
The 55 condominiums that changed owners during February followed a similar, albeit not as consistent, trend as single-family homes. The condo tally was up 3.8 percent compared to a year ago and has been higher than the prior year for the last three months and up for five of the last seven months.
“Luckily, Santa Clarita is one of multiple communities throughout California reporting increases in home sales,” said Erika Kauzlarich-Bird, president of the Association’s Santa Clarita Valley Division. “The market and economy would have improved even further, if only we had more homes listed for sale.”
Like other California communities, the inventory of homes for sale continues to plummet. There were 861 active listings at the end of February, down 27.6 percent compared to the 1,190 listing of February 2011.
At the current pace of sales, that represents, a 4.5-month supply, close to the desired 5- to 6-month inventory, but down from a 7.0-month supply of February 2011.
“Santa Clarita has a lot going for it,” said Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer, “yet full recovery will remain elusive until conventional equity sales dominate the market and current homeowners see the advantages of listing their home for sale.
“Acknowledging that there are opportunities today in every price category is different from believing it and acting on it,” Link said. “Prices are stabilizing, yet heavy activity in lower price ranges pulls the median price down. There’s pent-up demand out there, so prices will rally as the market works through distressed properties and buyers who have been waiting for a sign decide it’s time to jump into the market.”
The median price — the point where half of the homes sold for more and half for less — fell 7.0 percent during February to $385,000. The median has been floating between $340,000, the record low for this cycle set last November, and $390,000 for the last 12 months.
Likewise, the condominium median price of $194,000 was off 15.7 percent from February 2011. The condo median was up 5.1 percent from its record low, which was set in October.
“With heavy activity in lower price ranges pulling the median price down, you really have to analyze what’s happening in each price range and within each neighborhood to get a sense of what’s happening, especially as buyers examine at a particular unit,” Kauzlarich-Bird said. “Prices may be bouncing around now, but I’m confident that a clear upward trend will emerge sometime in the not too distant future.
“Today’s window of opportunity is closing,” she said. “But I don’t have a crystal ball to tell me when that will happen or when the next market will fully emerge.”
For now, however, pending escrows — a measure of future sales activity — suggest that sales will continue to pick up in the months ahead. The 426 open escrows at the end of February were 31.9 percent higher than a year ago.
The Southland Regional Association of Realtors® is a local trade association with more than 9,000 members serving the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys. SRAR is one of the largest local associations in the nation.